Regular Toothbrush Vs. Electric Toothbrush For Braces

Most people know how important it is to have an effective dental hygiene routine when it comes to keeping smiles looking good and feeling even better. Something as simple as brushing your teeth twice and flossing at least once per day has been proven to help remove the bacteria, sugar residue, and food particles that can lead to the buildup of plaque acids and hardened tartar. Being consistent with this kind of daily oral hygiene routine can significantly reduce your chances of developing cavities and gum disease, and is especially important if you are undergoing orthodontic treatment with braces.

You probably already know that it can sometimes be a challenge to maintain good oral hygiene while wearing braces. It is easy for food debris to get trapped around the brackets and under the archwires, increasing the risk of developing bacteria and plaque. Here at Dudley Smiles, we always recommend that our braces patients brush at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste for at least two minutes, along with nightly flossing. While there is nothing too tricky about maintaining this kind of healthy habit, choosing the best oral care products for braces can sometimes be a little more complicated!

Walk down the oral care aisle of any store, and you cannot help but marvel at the sheer amount of choices on display. You have got toothpaste for sensitive teeth, whitening gels, alcohol and alcohol-free mouthwash, flavored floss, manual and electric toothbrushes…the list goes on and on. It is no wonder we usually grab the first item we see or recognize and hit the checkout line! Because most of these products are equally effective, that is not necessarily a bad thing. But when it comes to toothbrushes, it turns out that those electric versions might actually have a slight edge over manual for patients who are undergoing orthodontic treatment.

In a study that compared electric toothbrushes with manual toothbrushes, the American Journal of Orthodontics & Dentofacial Orthopedics found that there was significantly greater plaque removal with an electric brush over a manual one. Of course, many of our patients can and do clean their teeth perfectly well with a manual toothbrush, but some really do find it beneficial to use an electric version. If you are currently in braces and use a regular toothbrush in your daily dental hygiene routine, take a look below to learn more about how an electric toothbrush could actually be a better choice!

The advantages of electric toothbrushes over manual for braces

There are several studies that have shown electric toothbrushes remove significantly more plaque than manual brushes, with some of the best models removing up to 2x more total plaque. That is pretty significant! So what is it about these brushes that gives them an edge over their manual counterparts?

Deeper cleaning

Electric toothbrushes are designed to drive fluids in between the teeth, making them extremely efficient. You have likely already experienced how difficult it can be to really get down deep in the various nooks and crannies caused by brackets and wires, but these brushes are often able to get to all of them with relative ease. Most models produce thousands of movements per minute, something it is impossible for you to replicate no matter how fast you brush!

Custom cleaning modes

Much like specialized toothpaste and mouthwashes, many electric toothbrushes have customized cleaning modes that are designed with a specific purpose in mind. These include modes for sensitive teeth, whitening and polishing modes for stain removal, tongue cleaning modes, and more.

Cut down on user error

We know that cleaning your teeth is not really rocket science, but you would be surprised by how many people either rush through or just do not know how to brush and floss properly. Brushing the right way is obviously an important part of oral care since many cavities and a great deal of gum damage can often be avoided by simply cleaning our mouths as recommended. Most electric toothbrushes now come with timers, sensors, and multiple modes that can take a lot of the guesswork out of brushing.

Closeup view dental health care objects

Choosing the best electric toothbrush for your smile

Electric toothbrushes come in a wide variety of styles and offer many different features. Both have advantages and disadvantages that are worth considering before choosing the best one for you.

Battery-powered toothbrushes

These electric brushes will usually run on an AA or AAA battery, and work similarly to a manual toothbrush. The difference lies in the way the brush head is designed. The bristles are made to spin or pulsate, adding a little extra oomph to your brushing technique, but you will still have to use a typical brushing motion since the power only enhances its ability to clean. Most of these brushes have replaceable brush heads that can be changed out when they wear down, and with care, the same battery-powered base can be used for quite a while. Battery-powered toothbrushes are the least expensive electric option, but make sure you replace the batteries as soon as they run out! Leaving dead batteries in your toothbrush can lead to nasty acid leaks that ruin your toothbrush.

Rechargeable toothbrushes

As the name implies, these brushes are usually designed to recharge in a base that plugs into a wall outlet, so there are no batteries to replace. Rechargeable brushes will often offer more high-tech options, such as timers, pressure sensors, and replacement reminders, and may have a variety of brushing options, like oscillation or vibration. The power behind these brushes provides all the motion you need, so you will normally only need to guide the brush across your teeth to get them good and clean. These extra bells and whistles do add up, so you can expect these types of electric toothbrushes to cost a bit more than battery-powered and manual brushes.

Electric toothbrush features 

Electric toothbrushes offer a wide variety of features, including:


Timers let you know how long you have been brushing and can be helpful if you have trouble brushing as long as you should. Some timers are even sophisticated enough to keep track of how long you are meant to brush each particular area of your mouth!

Pressure sensors

Some rechargeable brushes include a sensor that will track the presser you are putting on your teeth, and alert you if you are brushing too hard. If you suffer from sensitive teeth or weak enamel, this is an especially helpful feature.

Multiple brush head compatibility

Detachable brush heads give you the chance to keep the electric base of your toothbrush even when the bristles wear out.  Some bases will only fit one type of brush head, while others are compatible with multiple types, giving you more variety to choose from, including softer or firmer bristles. 

Different brush settings

There are brushes that offer multiple settings for more variety. Some different settings include:

  • Rotary, with the head rotating in only one direction
  • Counter-rotational, where the head rotates in various directions
  • Rotating-oscillating, allowing different lengths of bristles to rotate in opposite directions
  • Oscillating-pulsating, which adds a pulsating motion to the oscillatory motion, further enhancing cleaning

electric and manual toothbrushes isolated on white background

Brushing your way to beautiful braces with Dudley Smiles

Whatever you decide, we recommend you always look for the American Dental Association seal of approval on your dental products. Fancy new electric toothbrush or good old-fashioned manual one, toothbrushes with this ADA seal have been studied and tested for safety and effectiveness, and are guaranteed to perform as promised. We also encourage you to replace your toothbrush or brush head more often when undergoing orthodontic treatment, as braces can be pretty tough on bristles and wear them out more quickly.

The Dudley Orthodontics team is here to help you succeed in achieving a straighter, healthier, and more beautiful smile, and that includes keeping it in good shape while you are in braces. We are always happy to answer any questions you have or address any concerns you have about your treatment or your oral health. And remember, any time you need some extra encouragement on your orthodontic journey, we are here for you!  Providing you with compassionate care and the best orthodontic experience possible is our priority.